Sunday, May 24, 2015

Another side to the LDStorymaker Conference

There have been some amazing blog posts about the LDStorymaker conference that will give you a feel for what a unique, amazing conference it is. Here are a couple of my favorites:

http://seriouslygina.com/2015/05/20/the-social-butterfly-at-storymakers/

http://raneesclark.blogspot.com/2015/05/storymakers15.html

I was on the conference committee this year, helping to plan and pull this conference off, so I got to see things from the administration side.

Guys, there is so much work that goes into a conference of this magnitude, it's unbelievable. And we do it because we love it. Period.

I was the agent and editor co-chair, along with the amazing Jaime Theler, and it was our job to find the very best agents and editors to come to the conference that would fit as many people as possible's needs. We were asked to do this job in the spring of 2014, right after the last conference ended. We started by opening up a google doc and making a huge list of all of our dream agents for the conference and what they represented.

I was the newbie, so Jaime got to hold my hand through most of my figuring out what we do for this job. She is a fantastic leader and has the kind of integrity that we should all aspire to have, and I'm so excited she's taking on the role of Whitney President this year (though I'll miss working with her and having our long Skype calls!)

By July of 2014, we began extending invitations. In a few instances we had agents who had requested to come to our conference because of our reputation for having an abundance of talented authors. How great is that? For other agents, we approached them in person at other conferences to feel out if they were interested in coming. And then there were the ones that we sent out cold emails to. By the end of September, we had the powerhouse cast of Suzie Townsend, Victoria Marini, Mark Gottlieb, Jen Rofe, and Lizzie Poteet lined up to be special guests at the 2015 conference.

And we were excited. Through our many emails back and forth with these agents and editors, we realized that they were perfect for the conference: Hungry for new, fantastic manuscripts, enthusiastic about teaching, and knowledgeable in so many areas that would be of value to our attendees.

And they had great clients and sales as a track record all ready, which of course, was great. All that was left was opening up registration and filling up all their pitch slots.

Which happened in minutes. Like 2 minutes, I believe. In fact, you all crashed the registration system on the first day with your enthusiastic registering, so we had to do a Take 2! And it filled just as quickly.

Then Jaime and I spent a lot (A LOT) of time drawing the manuscript consult lottery, sending emails, making schedules, setting up time keepers, doing the Slushpile panel drawing, and a ton of other little tasks that added up to hundreds of hours of work between the two of us.

In the meantime, Jaime and I signed with agents of our own and had manuscripts that we needed to revise and write in our "down" time. Plus we have families, jobs, and church callings as well. It has been a busy year. But, again, we did it because we love it.

And then came a moment when Mark Gottlieb took one of our attendees on as a client after reading pages from a ms consult, and it was SO exciting. We were thrilled that before the conference even started, one person had benefited from all the time we'd donated to this conference... and we hope there will be many more.

Then it was time for the conference. We cannot thank you enough, everyone who volunteered to be time keepers. I know it was a huge sacrifice for you--we had them take 2 hour shifts of standing outside the agent's pitch rooms and keeping the timing on track--but because of you, Jaime and I were able to take care of other things we needed to do.

I even got to go to TWO FULL classes. And they were both amazing and life-changing for my writing, so your help is much appreciated. Martine Leavitt's class (which deserves a blog post of it's own) and Melanie Jacobson's on making the most of your writing time--which let's be honest, I think most of us could benefit from. I got to pop in and out of a few more classes here and there and catch a few minutes--usually just long enough to whet my appetite, but then I was off running again. But it was more than I could have possibly gone to without all of your help.

I have to throw in a shout-out here to co-chairs Melanie Jacobson and Jenny Proctor spent on this conference. OODLES of time. And they both still put out a book this year. They are my heros. I'm so in awe of all they can accomplish and how well they pulled this off, that I try to soak it all up while I 'm working with them. Maybe some of their efficiency and uber-talent will rub off on me by proximity.

Being on the committee, I got to see how many people gave of their time for us, quietly and without fanfare, just because they love it too. So this is my THANK YOU to the conference attendees this year.

YOU are what makes this conference so amazing. It's your overwhelming gratitude. The friendliness. The willingness to learn. The quickness to jump in and help where needed. The spirit of helping and giving and being so dang smiley when we really need your smiles.

And the agents noticed how happy and kind you all were. The committee noticed it as well. And I noticed it, and was greatly touched by it.

Here are just a few, and I hesitate to even name names, because inevitably I'm going to forget about 10,000 others who helped.

Brittany Larsen, who kept trying to feed me, which I appreciated because I have a tendency of skipping meals.
Emily King, my agent sister, who saved me a seat at dinner and arranged for me and Tricia to meet and gush about our agent, Rachel Brooks.
Gina Larsen, who gave me a little gift bag, and it was so kind to be thought of.
Evelyn Hornbarger, who took one of my favorite pictures of me ever, and sat with me at lunch so I wouldn't have to be by myself in the front. And was just as awesome in person as I hoped she'd be.
Tiffany Oderkirk, my roommate, who was always quick with a kind word when I needed one.
Mark Gottlieb, who's shortbread cookies were a godsend on a night when I had to skip dinner and was lightheaded.
Ranee Clark for being my writer BFF and go-to gal, no matter what. And for taking on time-keeping when she flew all the way in from ALASKA to go to this conference. She missed classes just to ease some of mine and Jaime's burden.
Melanie Jacobson for sharing her berry, ice cream waffle with me, which was amazing and so good-enough to justify not sharing.
(And how many of these are going to be food related?? My husband will tell you that I tend to not eat when I go to functions like this, so anyone who forces food down my throat and keeps me from getting hangry/fainty is my friend for life.)
Emily Clawson for finding me when I was lost--I somehow wound up inside the NuSkin building and wandered around one morning, trying to find the conference while holding my hot chocolate, my back pack, my conference bag, and a huge box of agent gifts--and leading me to where I needed to be.
Elana Johnson for sitting on the ground with me and Jaime to stuff name tags with agent pitch times.

And so, so many more. I wish I had pictures of every single one of these people, but I hardly pulled out my camera. Next year, I'm taking a million pictures.

You all are the best, and it is a privilege to be a part of this conference committee and maybe make a difference in some of your lives, like you've made a difference in mine.

Here's to 2016!
Let the planning begin....